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DeSantis says COVID vaccines will never be required school immunizations in Florida

At an appearance in Winter Haven on Thursday, March 16, 2023, to recognize the third year of COVID, Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his opposition to the federal lockdowns, mask mandates and other pandemic safety measures.
Facebook/Gov. Ron DeSantis
At an appearance in Winter Haven on Thursday, March 16, 2023, to recognize the third year of COVID, Gov. Ron DeSantis reiterated his opposition to federal lockdowns, mask mandates and other pandemic safety measures.

Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to question the science and safety behind the vaccines as he has throughout the pandemic, despite data from the CDC that shows the shots are safe and effective.

Federal guidelines recommend that children receive COVID-19 vaccine, but only states can require as a part of school immunizations. Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida won't be among them as he continues to tout his limited approach to pandemic regulations.

At an appearance in Winter Haven on Thursday, DeSantis reiterated his opposition to federal lockdowns, mask mandates and other pandemic safety measures that he says weren't backed by science.

“I think we were one of the first states to see the experts were getting it wrong and we resolved to charge a different course,” said DeSantis, who is being touted as a favorite for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential race.

The governor says that moving forward, no Florida student will ever be required to get the COVID vaccine to attend a K-12 school in the state.

“Do not think that that should be something that that schoolchildren should ever be forced to do. And so we're going to make all that permanent," said DeSantis. "And I think that that's something that's going to make a big, big difference.”

DeSantis continued to question the science and safety behind the vaccines as he has throughout the pandemic, despite data from the CDC that shows the shots are safe and effective.

In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted to recommend the shot for all children and adults, but stressed that this did not mean the it was required for schools. Only state laws can mandate which vaccines students are required to receive.

“The CDC has added it to the immunization schedule for children," DeSantis said. "We don't think that that's justified based on the data.”

DeSantis appeared with state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who last year issued guidance against children and men ages 18 to 39 not get the mRNA COVID vaccines, citing an increase in that age group in cardiac-related deaths.

Last week, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Ladapo warning him that his claims about COVID vaccine risks are harmful to the public.

For a list of immunizations that are required for schoolkids in Florida, click here.

Copyright 2023 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Danielle Prieur